Catholic Herald staff
Deacon Ken Kasinski’s life has taken some unexpected turns since he was ordained 11 years ago.
One of two deacons serving the Bayfield cluster of parishes, he was recently hired by the diocese to be the director of diaconal life, a position that will be appointed once a bishop is installed for the diocese.
Before him, Deacon Dennis Geisler held the post, and Deacon Tim Kuehn has also headed the permanent diaconate program.
“They both did wonderful work when they sat in this chair,” Deacon Kasinski said.
The deacon and his wife, Beth, live in Ashland. They have two grown daughters, Amanda and Kathryn.
At the time of his ordination, Deacon Kasinski was the superintendent of the Ashland School District. In 2007, he became administrator of the Cooperative Education Service Agency #12, the support agency for 17 public school districts in northern Wisconsin.
Moving was a requirement for one of his jobs, and the deacon and his wife were at odds over the size of the house they were building. He argued they didn’t need a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, but Beth disagreed.
“I acquiesced to it, and that’s fine,” he added.
A few years later, a significant loss changed the landscape of his family life, and the bigger house went from being a luxury to a necessity.
“There is a plan that God has for all of us,” he said.
His sister-in-law’s ex-husband died unexpectedly, and then, only 45 years old, she died of bacterial pneumonia in 2011.
The couple’s nieces and nephew – Jenna, 15; Jamee, 13; and Jakob, 10 – came to live with them.
“It’s been a great experience having them with us,” the deacon said. “Out of tragedy can come great joy and love.”
When he was ordained, Deacon Kasinski promised to take care of widows and orphans, a vow he has been blessed to fulfill.
“I can’t think of anything that fits together better,” he added.
As director of diaconal life, he will be the contact person for the diocese’s 50 or so deacons in active ministry.
The position mainly involves guiding professional development for the permanent diaconate, he explained. Organizing the annual retreat, working with parish leadership and staying in contact with Chris Newkirk, who guides discernment and formation for deacon candidates, also comes with the job.
Although he keeps an office at the chancery in Superior, Deacon Kasinski will be doing much of the work from home.
Technological glitches prevented him from answering emails to his diocesan addresses for several weeks, but those problems have been solved.
“With technology, you can do a lot of this really by phone,” he added. “This is kind of a labor of love. I love the deacon ministry and what we do.”
One aspect of the ministry he hopes to expand is the inclusion of wives. Beth attended classes with him, and he has often benefited from her insight, Deacon Kasinski said.
Overall, he hopes to get spouses more involved in all levels of ministry so each couple can be the witness to family life Pope Francis envisions.
Deacon Kasinski can be reached at 715-394-0235 or .